Traditional Thinking vs. Lean Thinking

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Traditional Thinking vs. Lean Thinking

“When solving problems, dig at the roots instead of just hacking at the leaves” -by Anthony J. D’Angelo.

The term lean transformation is used to describe all the tactical, strategic, and operational improvements that an organization undergoes for creating more value for its customers. The process of lean transformation includes the introduction of changes in an organization for maximizing the flow of value that is produced for the customers.

Traditional Thinking

Traditional manufacturing approaches were developed during the age of mass production which concentrated on the economy of scale & machine utilization. It generated the idea that if the machine was idle, it was wasting money, so it was kept operating no matter what. Traditional organizations used to maintain big inventories in expectation of customer orders to attain consumer satisfaction. They held this by keeping a machine running with a particular setup for as long as possible to decrease the unit cost and the traditional production system is driven by a sales forecast.

This approach of traditional manufacturing system is referred to as “Batch & Queue” as parts were made in batches & upon completion, they were shifted & placed into a queue where they had to wait for the availability of the next operation. The fundamental issue with this exercise is machine set-up times outline the duration of the product run time. Long set-up times do not permit for smaller runs because it would be regarded as hilarious to take 5 hours to set up a machine & only run it for an hour.

Traditional Thinking vs. Lean Thinking

Cons of Traditional Manufacturing:

A product experiences an amalgam of 3 activities during a process:

  1. Shift from one location to the next.
  2. Being processed.
  3. Waiting for the next process.

Studies have shown that in a traditional business, the total time is taken for a traditional production to go through the manufacturing process, is being shifted or waiting 90% of the time & is only being processed for 10% of the time.

• A bigger machine setup time results in a higher percentage of lost production time, as when the machine is down, nothing is produced.

• Difficulty trying to schedule the job because of the time a product is simply waiting for the next process to become available & set-up times.

• Product quality suffers due to the fact if elements in a batch are made inaccurately, the problem will not generally be in the limelight until the next operation starts to work on them. This results in a higher level of rework, which is costly & ties up valuable resources.

Lean Thinking

Lean Thinking is an organized approach that identifies & eliminates all types of waste that don’t add any value to the process. Performing this will allow more flexibility & smaller batches of parts to be made. It results in shorter lead times, reduced inventory, & allows more persistent deliveries to the customer. The lean thinking core principles help in the creation of an effective and efficient organization.

The primary concept of Lean is to boost customer value while reducing waste. A huge benefit of lean thinking is that you will deliver the perfect value to your customers but with less work, through a perfect value creation process that has zero waste. This is a reversal from the traditional focus on the economy of scale. During the process of product creation flow, all activities are categorized as “Value Added” or “non-value Added.” By knowing which part of the process is a “Non-value added” activity, you can eliminate or reduce it.

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Pros of Lean Thinking

  1. Improving Productivity & Efficiency

When employees are focused on delivering value, they will be more productive & efficient, because they won’t be distracted by uncertain activities.

  1. Focus

 By making use of Lean methodology, you will be capable to lower waste activities. So, your workforce will be focused on activities that bring value.

  1. Better Use of Resources

When your manufacturing is primarily based totally on real demand, you may be capable to use only as many resources as needed.

Also, See- Supply Chain Transformation Strategy: A Key to Success

Traditional Thinking vs. Lean Thinking

In Traditional thinking, the traditional production system is driven by a sales forecast which is referred to as Push System. 

In Lean, lean thinking drives production by customer demand, and items are only produced when an order is placed which is referred to as Pull System.

Traditional: Work in process (WIP) is taken into consideration as a regular part of operations. 

Lean: WIP is a signal that a procedure requires to be enhanced & is taken into consideration a type of waste that should be reduced or eliminated.

Traditional: In the traditional production system, problems are considered as simply that, problems.

Lean: Problems are regarded as possibilities for development frequently thru root cause analysis.

Traditional: Improve system (ignoring all the forms of waste within the process).

Lean: Improve system via means of 1) Removing waste 2) Improving present processes.

Traditional: If a process is operating don’t fix it.

Lean: The lean thinking core principles always search for methods to enhance processes.

Traditional: Focuses on training & depends on people to not make mistake.

Lean: Focuses on building processes that are error-proofed (so that a person can’t make a mistake, or it would be difficult to do so).

Traditional: In traditional production, management is the key driving force of change.

Lean: Everyone is empowered, trained in the core principles of lean thinking & motivated to look for ways to improve processes.

Traditional: Systems think (perspectives the business enterprise as a whole), regularly ignoring or not able to look at the vast possibilities for improvement. 

Lean: Views the business enterprise as a chain of interrelated procedures that may and need to be improved.

Traditional: Standardized work (human beings performing similar tasks in a similar way) most effective exists in files like SOPs, not often in reality.

Lean: In Lean leadership, everyone performs the similar task in a precisely similar way till a better manner is discovered; then everyone performs the task in a new & improved way.


The transformational framework of lean thinking seeks to deliver a new way to think about how to organize human activities for providing more benefits to society and value to individuals while also removing waste from processes. Whereas, traditional thinking takes the perspective of business enterprise as a whole, as it regularly dismisses or is not able to look for the huge possibilities of modifications.

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